As promised in my recent post, Reshaping Valiant Central, moving forward, this post marks the return of the site to slightly more long form, opinionated posts providing analysis of the Valiant universe we all know and love with a column I like to call, Out of My Mind. For the return post, I wanted to take a look at Valiant’s latest miniseries, Dead Drop.
When Dead Drop was first announced, I was pretty excited. With a strong creative team in Ales Kot writing, Adam Gorham on art, and Michael Spicer on colors, I had very high hopes for what the series could accomplish. The premise was simple but interesting:
There is a secret black market in New York. It is hidden in plain sight – in our streets, trains, restaurants. Those who know how to navigate it exchange secrets of extraordinary nature. But when the secret in circulation is a biological weapon derived from Vine technology, the gloves are off – and the most extraordinary agents are released to stop the disaster before it occurs.
What could go wrong!?
More than I could have imagined.
Maybe I should preface by saying that the book itself is not bad per se, and that there are still two issues left that could certainly turn the whole story around for me, but that as I hope I can explain, that’s not the point of this article. The book has certainly been very well received with a sold out first printing and a second coming out June 10th, but as I will go into detail in next week’s column, the sales numbers and reprints have become somewhat irrelevant (send your hate mail to email@example.com). There are certainly many people who are loving the book, look at all these reviews for the first issue:
“✮✮✮✮½…Instantly addictive. Get on board and see where this story swerves next.” – Bloody Disgusting
“Unabashed full-issue action… DEAD DROP #1 is a refreshing rollercoaster of an introduction…” – Comic Book Resources
“[A] fast-paced thriller… Adam Gorham’s stylish and fluid pencils are perfectly suited to Ales Kot’s speedy script…” – Newsarama
How could it be that the book is selling out, and gathering such great praise and here I am writing 1000+ words on how Dead Drop is just not captivating me? To me the answer is simple, the appearances of X-O Manowar and Archer in this book have been simply in name.
Those of you who follow me here, on Facebook, Twitter, the podcasts, or anywhere else I care to share my love for Valiant know my undying love for anything involving Aric and his X-O armor. X-O Manowar #0 was the first Valiant title I read way back in 1993 and what got me hooked to an addiction that has last over the past 22 years and lead me to writing this article. Robert Venditti has certainly done a tremendous job turning Aric from a headstrong brute to a strong, and intelligent leader over the past three years and what has been accomplished in that title has far exceeded my expectations and has not only done interesting character development, but introduced an entirely new and interesting mythos to the book – and all that gets thrown by the way side in one issue of a four issue mini. I apologize for the following rant.
A man fights off not only Roman legions, but aliens with advanced technology, hijacks their holy armor, travels a few million miles through space, gains kick ass energy blasts, near invulnerability, a friggin’ lighting sword, and flight, only to have to chase – on foot mind you – a (presumably) teenage girl through the streets of Manhattan, while avoiding police officers who are trying to arrest him for disturbing the peace? Did everyone already forget that Aric was pretty much the reason – ok, Unity helped – that the Earth was not completely obliterated from the universe just a couple of months ago? I’m pretty sure M.E.R.O. (now G.A.T.E. because FAR cooler name) made a pretty big deal about Aric and Unity’s role to the world press, not to mention the giant hole where Mexico City used to be should be a pretty important reminder of what has recently transpired. Let’s just pretend for a second that these cops never watch TV, or talk to anyone ever, or just assume that this happens before Armor Hunters and move on. How is it that Aric has to chase a perp on foot? I will admit that her parkour skills are impressive, but certainly nothing that one of the most powerful beings in the Valiant universe couldn’t easily handle. Even if you can accept the argument that he and (maybe) Neville want to keep the collateral damage to a minimum, I’m fairly certain that the threat presented by a virus presumably capable of wiping out mankind is much more important than breaking a few windows in the middle of New York City – just saying.
Dead Drop #2 brought Archer into the mix in one of the strangest stories I’ve read in a while. So Archer sleeps with a girl, loses his pants, and is enlisted by Neville to take over the chase after the virus. Yes, Archer is on yet another foot chase (ok that’s more believable)…through New York City…in his boxers…because why? Remember a few lines ago about how I said Aric could be one of most powerful beings in the universe? There are few who could contest him in this top spot but Archer is probably among one of them. So sure, he’s a kid and still pretty clumsy and naive but he has access to the Akashic record, you know, that little thing that allows him to tap into the collective knowledge of all of humanity and pretty much gain any psiot power he so chooses – but he gets kidnapped by a small group of ninjas…out of the back of a van…because…oh nevermind.
I will reiterate that this is actually not a bad book though. The frenetic pace of the story, and the visuals provided by Gorham and Spicer are really amazing and what kept me from completely dropping this book after the first issue. Regardless of what some of you may perceive as “hate” I am actually genuinely intrigued by what the virus really is, who (maybe) Neville really is, but most importantly, about seeing Cejudo and Betamax pop up over the next couple of issues.
If you are new to Valiant, I actually don’t see anything wrong with you picking up this book, but know that what we have seen of these characters is NOT what we have come to expect of them. You want a fun, action book with great art? You’ve come to the right place. But if you want to see what the Valiant universe is really about, you should look elsewhere.
Valiant certainly does a great job at always presenting new jump on points for readers with every title, and without a doubt everyone involved deserves the best of success for all the effort they put into every book, but I hope that never comes at the expense of releasing a title that seems to be more about hooking in the average Joe while completely disregarding much of what has come before it.